New TSCA Reform Bill Threatens Domestic Chemical Manufacturing and Innovation
Legislation Provides Minimal New Protection to Human Health, Environment
Washington, DC - Legislation that would significantly hamper innovation and impose stringent regulatory burdens on batch, specialty and custom chemical manufacturers - particularly small and mid-sized companies - was introduced last night in the House of Representatives by Congressmen Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) and Henry Waxman (D-CA), who both serve on the influential House Energy Commerce Committee.
The Society of Chemical Manufacturers and Affiliates (SOCMA) said the legislation, known as the Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010 (H.R. 5820), would negatively impact its members and likely shift production to developing countries, outside the reach of US law. The sheer scope and the lack of definitions in the bill raise major concerns on such issues as the safety standard. Under the bill, safety determinations would be on a per-use basis; however the term "use" is largely undefined.
"The definitions in the bill would vastly broaden the scope of TSCA," said SOCMA President and CEO Lawrence D. Sloan. "We have been consistent and determined in our belief that basing safety determinations on uses for industrial chemicals are unnecessary and would discourage the development of new chemicals and new uses, thereby dramatically impacting innovation."
SOCMA supports the notion that every industrial chemical in commerce must eventually be assessed, but expressed serious reservations with the minimum data set (MDS) requirement. Under the bill, manufacturers and processors would be required to generate an MDS in every case. However, it's highly unlikely the Environmental Protection Agency can develop a timely, meaningful and scientifically-based approach for determining an MDS. The process would likely take years and then have to go through the rule-making and public comment period.
On the issue of regulating new chemicals, SOCMA said one of the most important considerations, absent from this reform effort, is the cost difference in getting new chemicals into the market versus using those already in commerce.
"If promoting safer or green chemicals is one of the goals, then the bill must, at the very least, level the playing field between new and existing chemicals. We believe the bias should favor new chemicals," explained Sloan.
Regarding information disclosure, SOCMA said protecting Confidential Business Information (CBI) is critical in order to protect companies from being undercut by competitors in the US and abroad.
"We have witnessed China develop many off-shoot products and chemicals using stolen proprietary information," Sloan said. "While we recognize the problems with the overuse of CBI claims, protection of proprietary information will prove critical. It is important that legislation strike the right balance."
SOCMA is also concerned that this legislation does not do more to encourage consistency in compliance to one comprehensive federal standard but instead undermines this effort by ensuring states can adopt varying degrees of TSCA-like programs.
The Toxic Chemicals Safety Act of 2010 was introduced following a month-long stakeholder discussion, during which the Energy and Commerce Committee gathered feedback from industry groups including SOCMA.
SOCMA looks forward to continuing its efforts to promote recommendations for a pragmatic approach to TSCA reform with members of Congress.
For more information regarding SOCMA's position on the safety standard, visit SafeForUse.net.